Claiming Disability Living Allowance for your child can be daunting, but with the right guidance you can make a successful claim. Below are some tips and experiences.
My son, Freddie, was diagnosed with Autism when he was three years eight months old, after suspicions that he was not meeting his milestones by the age of two.
I cannot recall if I was told about Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the time of Fred’s diagnosis and it did not sink in, or I was not told at all. Anyway, after two or three years I did not know about it, and did a little research into what needed to be done. The general advice was that you never say “but”, and that it is “all the time, every day”!
When I received those very extensive forms that daunt us all, I took a very firm view that I could tackle this, because, as it goes, and as sad as it may be, I love a form!!
The very small boxes that they provide you with to complete questions such as ‘does your child have communication problems, if so far how many minutes of every day… ‘did not sit well with me. I added ‘see Appendix 1; which ended up being two A4 pages long on all the communication problems that he had, with so many varied examples of how the affect him that it would bore anyone senseless.
I did in fact do this with every question. This amalgamated into a very long application, which would have taken the most enthusiastic reader a fair amount of time to get through.
When you have a child with Autism or in fact with any disability certain things such as communication or sensory issues, are consistent throughout their lives. If my son has communication problems, then he has problems communicating all the time, and this is what I added to my form. If my son does not have a sense of danger where he would talk to anyone, believe anyone, walk away with anyone, step out into the road without looking or wonder of without a word, I would say that he never has a sense of danger, and this happens “all the time”, every minute of every day”.
During my work, I have spoken to quite a few parents of children with additional needs who have not even thought of these things. Even if they have neuro-typical children without additional needs, it is obvious to them that they are providing extra support. They are simply looking after their vulnerable child.
My son is in receipt of DLA up until he is 16, when this will stop and then we have Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to deal with. I do know that this will be a challenge, but one that I am ready to take.
Freddie has a great sense of humour and is very funny, affectionate and loving young man. Because of Freddie, I have a job with Lewisham Parent Carers Forum which I thoroughly enjoy – I have met some wonderful people, many of whom have become good friends, I am more confident, more outspoken and more knowledgeable about disability than I ever thought possible. Most of all, I am a kinder more patient person, I think I am so lucky.
For many parents who call the education helpline, it’s not school or college that’s the problem, it’s getting there and back. Below are some commonly-asked questions and answers.
My 10-year-old daughter is a wheelchair user – I’ve been told I can’t get help with transport as we live within 3 miles of her school?
Incorrect. The law says that free transport help must be provided for eligible children compulsory school age (5-16). Pupils who cannot be expected to walk to school because of educational need, disability or mobility problem are eligible for transport, whatever the distance between home and school.
My local authority says I must use my seven-year-old daughters Disability Living Allowance to pay for transport.
The local authority must provide transport to the nearest suitable school for eligible children. It’s not lawful to take Disability Living Allowance into consideration when making a decision to provide transport.
My 13-year-old son gets transport to his special school but it’s an hour-long bus journey with several other children. He has sensory difficulties and arrives at school very stressed.
Transport needs to be suitable, and your child needs to arrive at school ready to learn. Some children may need individual transport arrangements; for example, an escort, an individual taxi or a mileage allowance if you want to use your own car. Discuss options with your local authority transport team.
My 15-year-old daughter has Autism and it’s a struggle to get her to school on public transport but my local authority says they only provide transport to pupils with Physical Disabilities.
Your daughter is eligible for transport if her special educational needs or disability would prevent her from walking to school – this is the only test that should be applied. It is lawful for a local authority to have blanket policies which exclude groups. Beware statements such as “we only provide transport to children with EHC plans/physical disabilities/children attending schools on this local authority.
I want my son to go to primary school in the next village as they have a good reputation for special educational needs. But my local authority won’t provide transport as it’s not our nearest school.
The local authority only has to provide transport to help to the nearest suitable school. They can refuse transport if they consider that a nearer school could also meet your son’s needs.
This information is taken from Connected Magazine autumn/winter 2016.